Post # 1
I’m going to start applying for grad school soon and I wanted to get your take on this:
Fiance and I are getting married here, my family is here, and I’m doing undergrad here. FI has a good job, and we want to raise our (future) children here. Moving for grad school really isn’t an option, but my field requires a Master’s in order to work. I know it’s never good to just apply to 1-2 schools, but If I don’t get in, I’ll have to try again until they accept me. 🙂
The school I’m attending for undergrad has a top-rated grad program (No. 12 in the nation), by contrast, the next closest school is ranked No. 240. I really don’t want to attend that one, but I will if I have to.
So- now that you have the details, here’s my question: In my statement of purpose, do you think it would help or hurt to find a way to let them know that this is the only school I want to attend? That, for family reasons, I want to stay in Austin, but for academic reasons, I *really* want to attend this school.
I can’t decide whether I think it makes me look desperate and short-sighted, or just really committed to this school. Discuss?
Post # 3
@bells219: Can you do the degree through a distance program??
Post # 4
I wish. I’m looking into it, but it’s Speech Pathology and there’s a lot of clinical experience required. The online programs I found were not well ranked, and I’m worried it would affect my ability to get a job. I’ve been to several clinics in the area and it seems like they hire almost exclusively from UT, with a few exceptions.
Post # 5
@bells219: I was also going to ask about a distance program. What is your field?
Nonetheless, I think I would include in the statement of purpose. Faculty really try to get a feel for their students through these statements and its apart of who you are, so to speak.
Post # 6
- Wedding: August 2012 - Historic Lougheed House
Yeah I would make sure that you mention very specific things, like certain top researchers you’d want to collaborate with, and how their strong academics can further your own research ideas and potential. Make sure that you really lay it on thick with specifics, not just “I want to go here for academic reasons”. Schools like to know that their students think they are good, and that they have researchers that are “sought after”
Post # 7
I wouldn’t put in any info about why you want to go there beyond the academics. They will see your address on the application material, and I think reasonable people do understand that attending grad school where you already live is generally desirable. They’ll also understand, from your address, that you’re more likely to accept if admitted than someone who lives far away, which is good for their statistics. I’d say just focus on making all your application material really good, maybe contact them and see if you can meet a faculty member in the program to get a better idea of the program’s focuses, etc. Being in the area already gives you some advantages, but trying to leverage those advantages by emphasizing them in your statement of purpose might not be the way to go.
Disclaimer: I’m not a professor, I’ve never been on an admissions committee, but I’m in a master’s program myself and I’m familiar with the attitudes of at least some professors about applicants.
Post # 8
Saying that you want to go there for any reason other than academics will actually probably work AGAINST you (I know it would in my program). Highlight that it’s your first choice in other ways (best advisors, research, classes, fit with your interests that exceeds other schools). I know it sounds like it would help to say “if you take me I’ll definitely come!” but it also sounds to the adcom like this “I like you because you’re convenient, and I’ll say anything else you want to convince you to take me, but mostly I like you based on geography”….it may be true but don’t say it!!!
Post # 9
if you have in-person interviews with professors, you could mention then that the program is your top choice because of family factors as well as the academic factors–from my experience applying to and being in phd programs, the “fit” of the program is really important: they want to be accepting students who will say yes to the school and go there rather than a competing program. but I don’t think the statement of purpose would be the place to emphasize the non-academic reasons for the school being your top choice.
Post # 10
I used to be a graduate school consultant, my advice is a pretty clear “NO”.
1) Do not advertise or in any way indicate you are married or about to be. Grad school is incredibly stressful on relationships and admissions committees know that few “just marrieds” last in school. And no one who got pregnant in my cohort finished their degree.
2) Explain all of the academic reasons why you want to go to that school. You can include the perks of living in that area, if there are perks. For me, the real reason I wanted to go to school X was so I could get married in the school chapel. I wrote about all of the great opportunities for internships that I would get by living in that city.
3) Be sure to interview or talk to faculty of the program (without your ring on). If they know you, you will get in. Someone who I advised got into a school she was way underqualified for because she spent the time meeting with each of the professors to learn about the program.
Post # 11
I agree 100% with @eagle and disagree somewhat with emp04. I’m an audiologist, not an SLP but I (obviously) know lots of SLP grad students (current and past). The applicant and student population for this group is overwhelmingly female and of “marrying age”. I don’t think they’ll be fazed at all about your engagement ring or plans for settling down. They care more that you took the time to learn about their program, who the “names” are on their faculty, and specific opportunities for clinical rotations you hope to take advantage of. Hope that helps!
Post # 12
@Pollywog: I think your advice is solid, especially for highly competitive programs. However, hiding parts of your life (like taking off your ring) seems like you are lying in a way. Do you need to advertise you are married or wanting to attend the program for multiple reasons? Maybe not. Do you need to hide it? No.
Post # 13
I agree with PP, focus ONLY onthe academic side of why you want to go to this school. I was in a VERY similar situation to you last year! My Fiance and I moved to Los Angeles 2.5 years ago for him to attend medical school at UCLA. I worked for two years and decided it was time for me to go back to grad school. I really was ONLY interested in attending UCLA for grad school, but the education program is ranked #6 in the country. I knew I was competitive and I LOVED the program (it’s really perfect for me), but the REAL reason I ever looked into it is because i live in LA and was not interested in moving. I did NOT mention to them that it was the only program I was applying to. But I did attend every info session I could and I found out as much as possible about the program. I connected with professors and the director of the program. I talked up the specifics of the program and how I fit perfectly into it, not mentioning my (then) Boyfriend or Best Friend. Ultimately I got in (thank goodness, it was seriously the only place I applied) and I am now super happy in the program. Just talk up the academics like crazy. And make sure your resume is as beefed up as possible!
ETA: I wanted to add one thing. I’m now applying to teaching positions and I mentioned in an interview that my fiance is in medical school. Unfortunately, this actually hurt my job prospects because now they can’t be assured that I will stay in the LA area longer than a year (because my Fiance will be applying to residencies and we might have to move). While many would be upset that they slipped and mentioned this, I am happy I was honest and I feel like if I accept the job (IF they offer it to me!!) then I got it honestly and openly. If I do have to move, at least they knew it beforehand. They called last week and said they want to hire me but are hesitant about me staying in the area. And now I’m waiting by my phone, obsessing. *SIGH* So my point here is to say I wouldn’t HIDE your ring, but make sure you’re ready to deal with any ramifications… :-/
Post # 14
Like people have said, don’t mention family in your decision. I would strictly mention the academic side and even focus on what specific things the school offers that you find interesting. An interview would be a great place to state that this is truly the only school you’d like to attend.
Post # 15
This is all super helpful. There’s enough material for me to work with academically that I can make a solid case for my decision to go here, and it’s a fairly small program, so I’ll be able to name professors fairly easily. I just got a signature on taking some research credit hours in a lab run by one of the (I think) leading professors- I’ll be working with her in the fall, and applying by Dec. 15th.
If it makes a difference, I’m making all A’s in my major- B’s in some non-major electives. The GRE is terrifying me though- math specifically 🙁
Many of the undergrad professors are also involved in the grad program, but tell me about these interviews? Are they formal, or is this in the same vein as just making sure that I make contact with every professor in the school on my own time through office hours and such?
Another question: Should I be trying to get my application in early, or does it not have any bearing as long as it’s in by the deadline?
@Pollywog: I’m intrigued/surprised about the ring thing. I would have actually thought that being able to make a mature commitment would bode well for their perception of my character and ability to commit/persevere in general. I don’t talk about Fiance or family things openly at school, but I didn’t know that professors would look and judge that closely. I probably won’t take my ring off, but I do agree that I shouldn’t mention Fiance or marriage or babies in the application. Does it make a difference that almost every professor I’ve met is married, or do they assume that it’s ok to married after grad school only?
@JeniRae: I completely agree. Out of 200 or so undergrads, there are about 15 men in my program. I’ve actually looked up the stats on the ASHA website, and SLP’s are about 98% women, so I think that this program above many others is somewhat more “sensitive,” to women.
Post # 16
- Wedding: August 2012 - Historic Lougheed House
@bells219: most of those married professors… were they men? Academics is such an “old boys club.
I would highly, highly suggest taking your ring off for the interview. I think I misunderstood your original question, but DONT TALK ABOUT MARRIAGE, Fiance, and certainly NO BABY TALK! You won’t get in.
Take the ring off. They won’t look at your engagement as a “mature thing to do” – they’ll look at it as a 22 year old playing bride who is just going to get knocked up in a year and waste a spot in grad school.